BAY RIDGE — Soon Brooklyn residents can travel across the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge at the same discounted rate as their Staten Island neighbors.
The New York Senate passed 55 – 2, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes’ bill allowing Brooklyn residents to receive the $7 to $14 discount Staten Islanders now get. Republicans Sens. Robert Ortt and Joseph Gritto of Upstate were the lone lawmakers to vote against the bill.
The proposed legislation must pass the Assembly, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo needs to sign the bill into law. The discounted rate takes effect on the 13th date after it becomes law.
“For the Brooklyn residents who rely on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge for travel to work, school and medical appointments, the $19 toll is highway robbery, said Gounardes in an email. “It’s unaffordable, unacceptable, and highlights the gross inequities of New York’s transit system.”
The bill allows Brooklyn residents who use EZ-Pass and make at least 10 trips a month across the bridge to enroll in the MTA’s Rebate Program. The program offers a significant discount, reducing the one-way toll price to $5.50.
This is incredible news. We are one community, with family and friends, jobs and appointments on both sides of the Verrazzano. This is a huge step towards providing much needed relief to so many Brooklynites.
— Rep. Max Rose (@RepMaxRose) May 30, 2019
Late April, U.S. Congressman Max Rose, a Democrat, announced he’d support federal regulation to re-instate split tolling along the Verrazzano-Narrows to generate revenue and reduce congestion. Split tolling would cut the fair in half to be paid in both directions. Currently, drivers pay a toll entering Staten Island only.
Since Rose’s announcement, the Transporation Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations subcommittee passed legislation that includes split tolling language. The Congressman expects the U.S. Appropriations Committee to take on the legislation soon, according to a spokesperson.
It is not clear yet how the federal law will impact the state discount.
Gounardes, a Democrat, first introduced the bill mid-April after the governor found $6 million to stave off a $.40 hike for Staten Islanders who traverse across the bridge. The hike came in conjunction with a statewide increase on tolls and bridges.
“I’m glad the Senate voted on my bill and hope the Assembly can do the same so we can provide much-needed toll relief to New York residents,” Gounardes said.